Two Kenyan producers were stopped at dawn last Friday, December 16 at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport by customs police, detained in a centre for immigrants until the Sunday afternoon and then sent back to their country.
Ambrose Kakuko and Grace Kapserum from the Slow Food Pokot Ash Yogurt Presidium had landed in Paris in transit from Nairobi to Bilbao, Spain. They were in possession of passports, valid visas and documents that confirmed they were invited by the City of Bilbao and Slow Food International, and all of their travel and accommodation expenses were paid for.
Kakuko and Kapserum were to participate in the gastronomic festival Algusto, as part of the 4cities4dev project funded by the European Union. In the project, four European cities have partnered with Sub-Saharan African food communities in order to raise European citizens’ awareness on responsible consumption and the consequences of their food behavior.
“It is a shame that two people actively engaged in their country, who play a direct role in safeguarding biodiversity and local food traditions, were arbitrarily seized,” said Carlo Petrini, President of Slow Food International. “Grace Kapserum had left her country for the first time in her life, and both were excited to take part in this event in the name of sharing experiences and culture. Instead, they found themselves abruptly facing rejection, intolerance and prejudice,” he continued.
“It is paradoxical that the European Union’s efforts and money towards the strengthening of international cooperation have been in vain due to the inflexible behavior of its civil servants whose zeal in applying the regulations risks seeming very much like racial discrimination”.
Find out more about the Pokot Ash Yoghurt Presidium
Photo: Olivier Migliore